By Mabvuto Kambuwe:
The draw, which was conducted last Saturday in Morocco, has pitted Bullets against Kenyan giants Gor Mahia in the Champions League whereas Silver will face Gabonese side Association Omnisport Center Mberi Sport (AO CMS) in the preliminary rounds of the Confederation Cup.
According to a draw released by Caf Friday, Bullets will start away in Kenya on November 27/28 in Nairobi before hosting Mahia a week later at Kamuzu Stadium while Silver will also begin their campaign away to Gabon before playing at home.
The last time Bullets and Mahia played each was in the 1982 Cecafa Club Championship and the match ended 1-1.
The winner between Bullets and Mahia will face either Lobi Stars of Nigeria or Cameroon’s US Loum in the first round of the elite continental club competition.
Bullets Chief Executive Officer Fleetwood Haiya said his side would prepare well for the Kenyan side.
“We are not scared of facing any team because we are also a big team. As you know, we are travelling to Tanzania and Zanzibar for friendly games. It is good that we will be playing against Simba and JKU who are in the same region as Gor Mahia,” Haiya said.
Bullets have hired Zimbabwean mentor Calisto Pasuwa ahead of the tournament and started their preparations with a 2-0 win over JKU about three weeks ago.
Mahia have also been preparing for the competition and lost 4-0 to Premier League side Everton at Goodson Park in England.
Silver assistant Coach Lovemore Fazili said his charges need at least one strength-testing match before facing the Gabonese side.
“I think they are our match. We do not need to panic. We just have to play one friendly game before facing them. I am sure we can pull a surprise if we prepare well for the game,” Fazili said.
But local football analyst Higger Mkandawire described the draw as tough for both Silver and Bullets. He said Bullets should expect a hostile atmosphere against the Kenyan giants who have noisy supporters.
“We all know Gor Mahia. They are a good team, so Bullets should expect a tough match especially in the first leg. They are strong at home with a vocal crowd. On the part of Silver, they should make sure that they get something in the away match in Gabon,” Mkandawire said.
Bullets are making a return to the competition since 2015 when they were knocked out of the competition after losing 6-2 on aggregate in the second round against Sudan’s Al Hilal whereas Silver have gone 25 years without taking part in any Caf tournament.
Mahia, also known as K’Ogalo are based in Nairobi and have won the Kenyan Premier League 17 times, four more than their rivals AFC Leopards, who were coached by Malawi’s Reuben Malola in the early 1990s.
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